Practising yoga is a form of exercise that has a multitude of positive impacts for your mental health, physicality and fitness. People often people assume that yoga’s main benefit is to enhance flexibility. Yet this is just the start of the benefits that you can expect from practising yoga regularly. In terms of emotional and mental wellbeing yoga offers self-reflection, self-awareness and many scientists have even found it reduces anxiety, stress and depression. Physically it improves fatigue, asthma and some forms have even been known to reduce back pain. So, it’s no wonder that the love of yoga has created a yogi movement full of festivals, wellness retreats and shows across the world.
Back in my University days (now that makes me feel old !) I was in my own little yoga bubble attending body balance classes ( a mix of Yoga, Pilates and tai-chi) twice a week with my friends Holly and Alison. It massively boosted my mood, reduced my stress and enhanced my fitness, but I was totally oblivious about the different forms of yoga and variety of meditation practices. Since joining the world of work my yoga practise has fallen somewhat by the wayside – yet I am fighting to get back into the swing of it again, and one event which has re-ignited my passion for yoga is the OM Yoga Show London.
On Saturday 19th October 2019 I was gifted two tickets to the OM Yoga Show London at Alexandra Palace and attended the event with my friend Holly (and subsequently ended up bumping into Alison and her friend Robyn). For over a decade people have attended the OM Yoga Show for the chance to immerse themselves in a yogic atmosphere, be inspired by leading teachers, to try something new and purchase yoga accessories. And Alexandra Palace – what an incredible venue to embrace the yogi lifestyle in! With beautiful stained-glass windows, a grand organ and high ceilings our show experience was wonderful from start to finish.
There are several workshop areas set within the main hall offering a programme of free workshops throughout the three days . And there are lecture areas offering the chance to learn more about key lifestyle choices. Of course if you are very keen you can pre-book some workshops including HotPod Yoga (which sadly I missed on this occasion but hope to try very soon), but there are so many fantastic open and free classes throughout the day to keep you busy. There are even kids’ yoga classes too (I’m definitely getting my future children into yoga from an early age!).
Elle’s top tip: As the classes are all operated on a first come first entry basis, you’ll want to arrive around 10-15 minutes before the scheduled start time to secure your place on the mat!
In-between the workout areas there are over 200 exhibitors selling a dazzling array of yoga clothing, vegan & vegetarian food outlets and online yoga subscription sites .I signed up to Movement for Modern Life which is like the Netflix of the yoga world – follow the link to get your free 7 day trial.
We started our day by sitting down with the map and programme and working out which classes we wanted to attend most. Planning for a large event like this is very important because there are so many people at the OM Yoga Show London. You’ll struggle to get into the yoga workshops and could end up disappointed if you don’t plan a little ahead. Our first class was in the OM Yoga Open Class area with instructor Esha Kansal for ‘An After Work Yoga Practise’. This 30minute long class gave us breathing exercises and movements ideal for relaxing muscles and minds after a day at work. The routine here included key yoga moves such as downward dog, the plank and sun warrior, so everyone from beginners to experts thrived here.
Elle’s top tip: Avoid taking the mats at the back of the room -if you can- during workshops, as doing extended leg poses against a wire fence is a little off putting.
After this session we looked around at the lunch options (all the food outlets here are vegan and vegetarian friendly) and decided on Pieminister for our lunch – a goat’s cheese and sweet potato pie with gravy and mash – simply delicious.
Next was the very popular ‘Gong Yoga’ in the Mindbody Open Class area led by Rachel Porquet-Chanmugam. This session was particularly interesting as neither of us had done anything like it before. The sacred gong is used to bring participants to a higher state of consciousness and enlightenment through vibrations. Moving our breath from one nostril to the other, aligning our chakras and learning about a practice called fire breathing – where air is expelled powerfully through the nose by pressing the navel point back towards the spine (think I need more guidance on this one). It certainly was an experience with a difference. I think that to truly enjoy this form of meditation I’d have to be in a much quieter place than the busy Alexandra Palace. There is one element from the class that I will take away with me in my practise at home – something that you can easily try yourself if you need to feel calmer – the practise of Mudra.
- Place your thumb and index finger together ‘Gyan’ to sharpen your brain and nervous system
- Move your thumb to your middle finger ‘Shuni’ to turn negative emotions into positive and encourage patience.
- Place your thumb to your ring finger ‘Surya’ to help encourage digestion and speed up metabolism.
- Then to finish, move your thumb to your little finger ‘Buddhi’ to help with communication and knowledge.
- Repeat this several times in line with your breathing exercises for a great meditation session.
After looking round the stalls, getting our free HotPod Yoga class coupons and resisting the urge to buy more activewear (if I’d come after payday those gorgeous pattered leggings would now be mine) our last class of the day was Hoop Flex Fusion a fun class led by Joy Dean in The BodyHoliday Open Class area. Spinning the hoop round our waists, arms and hands, whilst doing yoga poses was… yes even harder than you might think. And I’m sorry to the lovely smiley ladies who I accidentally hit with my hoop as I lost control! This class did encourage me to see the fun, less serious side of yoga practise and to smile to myself more often when I take part in yoga. Before we went home, we treated ourselves to a tasty smoothie each – the yogi lifestyle is so healthy and energising we hope to go to a retreat in Thailand for our 30th birthdays celebrations if we can.
Will I be going back to the OM Yoga Show London next year? Yes, most definitely!! In fact, I think this will now be a yearly tradition in future, as I returned home so zen, energised and very happy. I highly recommend this event to yogis looking to widen their exercise portfolio or try yoga for the first time. It’s a superb day out, the OM Yoga Show London has given me the ultimate gift of teaching me to be more present in the moment and making me realise that anyone and everyone can be a yogi.
Disclaimer: This post is a sponsored blog by OM Yoga London and Prime Impact Media. In exchange for this blog post and social media activity I was gifted two one day entry tickets. All views expressed however are entirely my own. Images used have highlighted photo credits where applicable.